Institute of Education


Defining further education: does it matter?

6:00 pm to 7:30 pm, 15 February 2018

Professor Martin Doel

Event Information

Open to



Jeffery Hall, UCL Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL

Watch a replay of the talk or listen to the podcast here.

There is no commonly accepted definition of further education (FE), with the term being used to embrace provision that ranges from foundation learning for adults to higher apprenticeships, as well as academic and vocational education for young people from age 14 onwards.

Professor Martin Doel argues that this lack of definition does have consequences in terms of a lack of agency for institutions and organisations classed as FE providers, in inconstancy of government policymaking in this area, and in the resources allocated to post-16 and adult education.

However deriving an all-encompassing definition may be impossible to achieve in a way that is meaningful and useful. The alternative for those providers currently classed as being a part of the FE sector, most particularly colleges, is to more carefully define and describe their own distinct individual purpose as an essential part of local educational and social ecosystems.

Martin Doel briefly summarises the issues facing the FE sector in this podcast:

Join the conversation on Twitter with #DefiningFurtherEd.

The lecture will be followed by a response from Dame Ruth Silver, founding President of the Further Education Trust for Leadership, Q&A, and a wine reception.

The lecture is free to attend and all are welcome.

Register to attend

About the speaker

Professor Martin Doel joined the UCL Institute of Education (IOE) in 2016 as the first Further Education Trust for Leadership Professor of Leadership in Further Education and Skills, prior to which he was Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges (AoC) from 2008.

About the respondent

Dame Ruth Silver

Dame Ruth Silver is the founding President of the Further Education Trust for Leadership and co-chairs the Skills Commission. For 17 years Ruth was the Principal of Lewisham College, a large vocational further education college in south-east London serving a diverse and multicultural population.




In association with the Further Education Trust for Leadership.

Further Education Trust for Leadership